To keep your remote project procurement on track, you should set up your project with the end in mind. You never know what potential challenges you will face or what legal obligations and penalties may arise. Success requires correct documentation and thoughtful planning. It is far easier to plan rather than submit dozens of change requests and end up canceling the project. Here are some things you will need to plan for success.
Things you will need:
A good project plan is a robust project plan, including a blueprint of the specific details for your procurements. If it is not robust, take a step back and update the project plan first.
Depending on the size of the project, company, location, and team, you will need more or less project documentation to keep your procurements on track. Some of these include quality reports, requirement documentation, risk and stakeholder registers, and even an assumption log. Be mindful of your specific project needs. Pay close attention to the company culture, politics, and external situations and always refer to any available historical assets.
Take time to create original documents or find and modify a template to fit your project’s needs. You may be working for an organization with a procurement department. If this is the case, communication will be vital as you work through the procurement process and get your procurement team everything they need the first time.
If you are a team of one or working for an emerging business, you will need to prepare sound legal documents or work with a third party. It is not your obligation to be an expert in procurement law, but it is your responsibility to abide by the laws.
Method of payment
Payment can take time and involve multiple parties. Become familiar with your organization’s payment process and maintain an open line of communication with your accounting team. Add a time buffer to your schedule for completing contracts and setting up accounts. If you are setting up payments yourself, there are a few convenient third-party options. Paypal has worked well for me in the past.
As the project cycle begins, so will the change request cycle. Continuously add approved change requests to your procurement documentation. Be sure your contractor employee(s) know how to interpret the change requests, especially if you are working with language barriers.
Remote procurement documentation tips
- Protect your project by avoiding verbal agreements. Get everything in writing.
- Choose a language for the project. Most often, English is the language of business.
- Video and phone calls work best for planning and negotiating. Ensure clarification by providing meeting notes.
- Create a detailed statement of work, outlining expectations, measurements, and the definition of done.
- Be explicit about pricing and payment in the agreement.
- Establish a change control method before contracts are signed.
- Establish work performance reports or status reports as part of the work required to complete the project.
- Start with excellent documentation and keep detailed records as you work through the procurement process.
Manage your procurement
Continuous inspections and audits
I once hired a contractor to work on a website update. I was very thorough in creating procurement documentation and setting communication. We were even both native English speakers, so language was not an issue. Everything was on track to be completed on time.
At the final review of the website, I was shocked to see an orange, yellow, and red color scheme instead of pink, green, and blue. I realized I miscommunicated brand guidelines and made the mistake of thinking the project was too small to need regular inspections. Regular inspections would have prevented hours of incorrect work and would have allowed for timely changes and faster completion.
Clear, measurable, attainable outcomes are critical to evaluating the performance of the contract worker. Be sure to establish metrics before the contract is signed. One option is to use the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Earned Value Analysis or Trend Analysis as tools. Be transparent and set expectations, scheduling continuous reviews that guide performance.
Quick procurement implementation tips
- If you’re new to procurements, reach out to a fellow project manager to learn tips and tricks. Expertise and potential mentorship are helpful to avoid pitfalls.
- Stay open to new ideas, be flexible, and modify as you go.
- Set a regular meeting time to sync with all contractors individually.
- Inspect, audit, and iterate frequently.
- If there are issues with the agreement, keep claims documentation.
- Clear and consistent communication is critical to project success.
Megan Russell, PMP, is an experienced project manager with a demonstrated history of working in the technology and online education industries. She has consulted in the past and is a subject matter expert specifically in digital project management, remote project management, and project communications. Currently, she works to develop and maintain the curriculum at LinkedIn Learning in project management, product management, operations, and leadership. She enjoys volunteering on various advisory councils and working in leadership positions on women and diversity first groups. Megan writes about customer relationship management and remote project management.